Hello everybody. This is JLWChambers, coming to you with a story by Lord Tachys alFahn, entitled
The Windows are Open
He knelt down near the small, still form, allowing himself a few minutes to examine it. Emaciated limbs, atrophied from lack of use, extended at odd angles from a small torso wrapped in tattered, unwashed rags. The body was topped with a head that was unusually large by comparison, even for a child so small. Pulling a rag out of one of the many pockets secreted about his robe, he dabbed the thin line of drool from the corner of her slack-jawed mouth, examining her teeth as he did so. Yes, she was young, but not quite as young her wasted body suggested.
Then his gaze moved up to the eyes, those unfocused, empty eyes.
Anyone looking at those eyes would have thought her a soulless husk. This man knew better… the power pulled him to the soul trapped within.
“Do not worry, child… all have their place in the order of things. All have a purpose,” he whispered to her, gently brushing the stringy, dirty hair away from her face, “and I think I may have discovered yours.”
Scooping her up easily, he rose to his feet, and strode towards the Shard.
She ran, as she always had. Something was after her, she knew… vile and terrible. She had seen it once, long ago, but could not recall it clearly. All that remained was the overwhelming horror, and the need to be far, far away.
It had not always been so. She could still remember Mother, who had protected her and made the world bright and beautiful and safe. But something happened, and Mother wouldn’t play anymore. She wouldn’t play or move. She wouldn’t do anything, then she disappeared.
That was when the Thing appeared. Its arrival turned her bright and happy world into a maze of halls and doors and windows. Windows were especially bad, and needed to be shuttered always, for that was what had let it in. The doors needed to be open, Mother always had the door open, the girl needed to open the right one to find her.
And so she had run, opening so many doors to find Mother, only to find so many empty rooms. There were other rooms, with things she didn’t understand… happy moments where she thought she had finally found Mother, but instead had found only paintings of things that didn’t seem right.
A girl yelling…
Then came the Quaking.
The halls shook and twisted about her. The doors wouldn’t open now. None of them would budge, no matter how hard she pulled. And the windows…
The Windows were OPEN!
IT would find her!
Through the windows came a voice saying words she couldn’t understand. Terrified, she ran. All the while, the halls continued to shake and rattle. She had to hide, find a place where the Thing could not reach her. She could hear it, smell it nearby. A door nearby opened and she dashed through, desperate to escape.
She was in a room… with a window, an OPEN window! Turning in a panic, she tried to escape, only to bounce off a solid wall. She cast about, but there was only the window, and…
It was her! She was finally here! But…
Something was wrong! Mother was yelling, scolding, denying her wish to do something, but what? She found she didn’t care, anger surged inside the girl, white and burning. Suddenly she was upright with a denial of her own, one that pushed her arms out and up. She stood, horrified, as her mother stumbled back, her face a mirror of the girl’s own. She stumbled back, and then out, through the open window. Before the girl could reach her, Mother had fallen, landing with a sickening thud on the ground below.
The girl stood there, tears streaming down her face, emotions boiling within her: blinding rage, shock, shame and then a soul-crushing sorrow finally wrenching an agonized howl from her.
She looked up, the Daedalian light giving her eyes a red, feral cast, to see a dark, slender man standing before her, hand extended…
The creature’s leathery wings unfurled to reveal a small, scaly face with deep, burning red eyes that regarded him with something akin to wonder. The echoes of its transformational howling finally subsiding, the imp tentatively climbed up his outstretched hand, to perch on his arm, dutifully awaiting the grinning man’s orders.